The Ledes

Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

Portland Press Herald: "Harsh winds and heavy snow marched into Maine overnight, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency early Tuesday morning. The slow-moving storm is dropping 2 to 4 inches of snow an hour, with north winds of 25 to 35 mph, gusting to 55." ...

... Boston Globe mid-morning report: "The persistent heavy band of snow continues over the Route 495 belt where the heaviest accumulations will likely end up once the storm is over. Snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour or more continue." ...

... Weather Channel: "Winter Storm Juno was pounding New England with moderate to heavy snow, high winds and coastal flooding Tuesday morning. Parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts have seen more than a foot of snow. Snow amounts in the New York City metro area have ranged from a half foot in Central Park to more than 18 inches on central Long Island near Islip. Wind gusts have topped 70 mph in parts of eastern Massachusetts. Coastal flooding has also closed some roads in eastern Massachusetts. Thundersnow was reported in coastal portions of Rhode Island and Massachusetts late Monday night and early Tuesday." ...

... Yahoo! News has area-wide live updates here.

AP: "Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Libya's capital Tuesday, killing at least five foreigners and three guards, authorities said. The attack, which included a car bombing, struck the Corinthia Hotel, which sits along the Mediterranean Sea."

The Wires

The Ledes

A friend sent me this updated forecast. Hope this helps:

Monday, January 26, 2015.

Politico: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid successfully underwent a lengthy surgery on Monday to repair broken bones in his face suffered in a New Year’s Day exercise injury, according to his office. The Nevada Democrat was released from George Washington University Hospital on Monday afternoon following the surgery. Surgeons removed a blood clot and pooled blood in Reid’s right eye and mended several bones in Reid’s face, injuries that have caused Reid blindness in his right eye."

New York Times: "Marcus J. Borg, a scholar who popularized a liberal intellectual approach to Christianity with his lectures and books about Jesus as a historical figure, died on Wednesday at his home in Powell Butte, Ore. He was 72."

Bloomberg News: "Russia’s foreign-currency credit rating was cut to junk by Standard & Poor’s, putting it below investment grade for the first time in a decade, as policy makers struggle to boost growth amid international sanctions and a drop in oil prices."

Hill: "The U.S. has closed its embassy in Yemen's capital because of security concerns, the State Department said Monday. The closure comes after the resignation of Yemen's president, pressured by rebel forces."

The New York Times is continually updating its snowfall map for the Northeast. ...

... New York Times: "As millions of residents in the Northeast prepared for a powerful storm bearing down on the region, bringing with it near hurricane-force winds along the coast and as much as three feet of snow, officials from New Jersey to Maine urged people to get off the roads and stay indoors. Even before the worst of the storm hit, thousands of flights were grounded, public transportation was suspended or curtailed and travel bans were put in place in the half dozen states in the path of what was expected to be a blizzard. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced on Monday afternoon that all subway and bus service in New York City would stop at 11 p.m." CW: Sorry to say the forecast pictured above still holds. ...

... "The Times is providing free unlimited access to storm coverage on NYTimes.com and its mobile apps." ...

Washington Post: "Blizzard warnings and winter storm warnings blanket the Northeast on Sunday night in anticipation of [a major] storm. Over 29 million people are under a blizzard warning through at least Tuesday afternoon, and 14 million people are under a winter storm warning. 24 to 36 inches of snow is expected from northern New Jersey to southern New England, in addition to the 50 to 60 mph wind gusts that could severely reduce visibility." ...

... USA Today: "Airlines reacted to a major snowstorm that's expected to wallop parts of the Northeast by cancelling more than 5,200 flights through Wednesday. Of those, at least 3,200 were already announced by Sunday – a day before the storm's first flakes fell along the East Coast." ...

... The Weather Channel story is here. ...

... Boston Globe: "This storm will cripple travel through Tuesday afternoon and it will take until Thursday before things start to get back to normal. These types of storms can shut Logan Airport down for at least a day even after the worst of the storm has ended. Everything will be closed tomorrow and many schools will be closed Wednesday and some the rest of the week, because the sidewalks won’t be clear."

... CW Prediction: This potentially historic storm should be the final nail in the coffin of any silly global warming theories. Those GOP senators who admitted climate change was "real"? Just pulling Democrats' chain.

Public Service Announcement

Get Off Your Ass! Los Angeles Times (Jan. 19): "New research that distills the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of us who sit for long hours raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death."

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

White House Live Video
January 26

8:10 am ET: President Obama & Indian PM Modi speak at a business summit in New Delhi, India

2:00 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a Caribbean energy security summit in Washington, D.C.

5:45 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at a sheriffs' association meeting

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Oh, lawdy, what will they think up next?

... www.cicret.com

In the New York Times, Barry Bearak remembers Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire): "After going through the drive-through at Burger King [in Rochester, N.H.] Friday, a local woman discovered that instead of the sweet tea and junior spicy chicken sandwich that she ordered, she got a bag full of money. Rather than keeping the cash — totaling $2,631 — she came back to the restaurant with her husband and returned it."

Gawker: "Bill Clinton took repeated trips on the 'Lolita Express'—the private passenger jet owned by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — with an actress in softcore porn movies whose name appears in Epstein's address book under an entry for 'massages,' according to flight logbooks obtained by Gawker and published today for the first time. The logs also show that Clinton shared more than a dozen flights with a woman who federal prosecutors believe procured underage girls to sexually service Epstein and his friends and acted as a 'potential co-conspirator' in his crimes."

New York Times: Director Martin "Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about [former president Bill] Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said. Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said."

Jessica Roy of New York: "Now that he's been released from jail after his kidnapping-conspiracy conviction was overturned, Gilberto Valle — the former NYPD officer dubbed 'Cannibal Cop' for allegedly planning to kidnap, kill, and eat women — is hungry for love on Match.com. Unfortunately for him, the online dating service told us that they've deleted Valle's alleged profile, even though frankly he can't be any worse than the other dudes you might find on there.... Also, he listed cooking as a favorite hobby!"

CW: Not sure why this is news. As a disconsolate Windows 8 user, I heard this -- in re: Windows 8 -- two months ago. New York Times: "Microsoft said people using the two earlier versions of its operating system, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, would be able to update their computers to Windows 10 free for the first year after the new software is introduced."

Ellen's Gay Agenda. Thanks to P. D. Pepe for the link:

The French discover Ken & Barbie News Fox "News." For some reason the journalistes at "Le Petit Journal" don't find it credible. With English subtitles. Thanks to Creegr for the link:

New York Times: "A person close to the Barack Obama Foundation, which is overseeing plans for the [presidential] library, anonymously told local reporters last month that foundation officials had 'major concerns' with proposals from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Foundation officials were said to be alarmed that the University of Chicago does not yet control the land where the university wants to build the library. To the shock and horror of residents here, that left Columbia University in New York, where Mr. Obama received his undergraduate degree, as the apparent front-runner. And suddenly a fait accompli has become an open question."

Washington Post: Two treasure hunters may have found the Griffin, a ship that disappeared in the Great Lakes in mid-1679.

And the Winner Is ... A White Person! Tatiana Siegel of the Hollywood Reporter: "For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses. Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma." ...

... Scott Mendelson of Forbes: "... the most egregious omission is the sadly not-entirely-surprising absence of Selma’s Ava DuVernay from the five contenders nominated for Best Director.... She deserved a nomination." ...

... Steve M.: Given the sorry state of most of Hollywood's output -- the CGI roman-numeral blockbusters and comedies about farting boy-men, greenlighted mostly by white males -- and given the near-total freeze-out of women in directorial roles (or in most acting roles beyond male stars' arm candy), I guess I know the answer. And it's pathetic."

... Todd VanDerWerff of Vox: "Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man. VanDerWerff also lists other factors he thinks worked against Selma.

... CW: I don't think I linked to this essay by Chris Rock, published in the Hollywood Reporter last month. Subject: The movie biz is "a white industry." I guess so.

Dick Poop. USA Today: "Dick Pope..., the cinematographer for Mr. Turner, made international news after Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name during the nominations, calling him 'Dick Poop.'"

Here's the L.A. Times story covering the Oscar nominations.

New York Times: "Amazon announced on Tuesday that it had signed [Woody] Allen to write and direct his first television series. The company said it had ordered a full season of half-hour shows, as yet untitled, which will make their debut on the service next year. It provided few other details."

Jareen Imam of CNN: "Jeweler Tiffany & Co., for the first time, is featuring a gay couple in an ad campaign. The new 'Will You?' campaign, shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, features seven scenes of couples. One in particular is drawing widespread praise for showing a same-sex couple. The pair, shown sitting on a stoop in New York City, are a couple in real life, Tiffany spokeswoman Linda Buckley said."

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Thursday
Sep132012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 14, 2012

CW: This would be a good day to journey to the bottom of the post.

NEW. Dean Baker has a good piece on David Brooks' column. Headline: "Did Public Schools Fail David Brooks?"

Ben Bernanke holds a press conference to explain the Fed's action:

Felix Salmon of Reuters: "The main news isn't the fact that the Fed is back in the market, buying bonds. Indeed, as Binyamin Appelbaum [of the New York Times] points out, QE3 in volume terms, at $40 billion per month, is significantly smaller than QE1 and QE2.... [The big deal is that] QE3, unlike QE1 and QE2, has no set expiry date. The Fed's ... promising a steady extra flow of monetary fuel for the foreseeable future -- or at least until the labor market improves 'substantially.' ... But the Fed went even further ... where they all but promised zero interest rates until mid-2015." ...

QE3 -- Good for Everybody! Josh Barro of Bloomberg: "While overly tight monetary policy has hit the unemployed the hardest, it has been bad for almost everybody, including rich people. It's true that disinflation has been good for certain securities, particularly low-risk bonds. But wealthy bondholders also tend to be wealthy stockholders, and Fed policies that hold economic growth down are bad for equities...." ...

... Paul Krugman makes some remarks on the Fed's move. ...

... Michael Tomasky of Newsweek: "Republicans are piling on in the expected ways. Romney calls it another 'bailout.' I'd watch that word if I were he; that word is no friend of his (oh, by the way -- Obama is up 10 in Michigan).... If Republicans want to be in the position of opposing an effort by the Federal Reserve Bank to lower the jobless rate, that's their problem.

Krugman: You might be a Keynesian if ... you believe reports that sales of the new iPhone 5 is likely to stimulate the economy.

Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy: "President Barack Obama didn't intend to signal any change in the U.S.-Egypt relationship last night when he said Egypt is not an 'ally,'" the White House [said Thursday]. Here's the full transcript of the Telemundo interview. In response to the question, "Would you consider the current Egyptian regime an ally of the United States?" Obama responded, in part,

I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don;t consider them an enemy. They're a new government that is trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident. How they respond to, for example, maintaining the peace treaty ... with Israel.... Certainly in this situation what we're going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected, our personnel is protected, and if they take actions that indicate they're not taking responsibilities, as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that's going to be a real big problem.

Finally, Juan Cole raises the question that likely occurred to all of us: "Why in the world [Ambassador Chris Stevens] was in an insecure minor consulate in a provincial city on September 11 is a mystery to me." Read Cole's whole post; he is an expert on Middle East politics, & he gives a more nuanced sense of what happened in Libya & Egypt.

Presidential Race

And You Thought Voter ID Laws Were Abominable. Evan McMorris Santoro & Ryan Reilly of TPM: "Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an informal advisor to ... Mitt Romney, said on Thursday he and his fellow members of a state board were considering removing President Barack Obama from the Kansas ballot this November." CW: the Kansas board won't get away with this of course, but it is important to realize to what lengths Banana Republicans will go to blow up the democratic process & exactly what their commitment is to "American values." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "President Obama spent the second day of what was to be an upbeat swing through the politically vital Mountain West on Thursday balancing the somber tone that a foreign policy crisis demands and the hyper-partisan rhetoric that eight thousand Coloradoans came to hear."

The Obama campaign released this Web video yesterday, hitting Romney on his secret tax returns again. Donovan Slack of Politico has a related story:

This Didn't Take Long. McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed: the Romney camp is blaming the "liberal" press for its problems. One "Republican said, 'Experienced political operatives say they've never seen the press be so unhinged and determined to write 'Republican in disarray' stories.'"

... Tim Egan on the burdens of free speech by hatemongers -- and Romney, whose popping off was the "most revealing moment of the campaign." ...

... Roger Cohen of the New York Times: "This September surprise has given the world cause to appreciate the cool head in the White House and worry about the hothead who aspires to replace him. Romney, in Jacques Chirac's immortal phrase, 'lost a good opportunity to keep quiet.'" ...

... Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post in a column titled "Romney Owes an Apology": "... no one should be surprised by Mitt Romney's decision to ... exploit the attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and Libya as ammunition in the presidential campaign. After all, [he] ... wrote a book in 2010 premised on, and titled with, the false notion that Barack Obama has been going around the world apologizing for America.... To Romney, apologizing means never actually having to say you're sorry." ...

... Glenn Kessler: "Earlier in the week, we hesitated about handing out Pinocchios because not all of the facts had been established. But now it is pretty evident that the Romney campaign misstated the facts on Tuesday, on Wednesday -- and then again on Thursday, even after the peculiar circumstances of this embassy statement had been made abundantly clear." ...

... Gene Robinson: "The most charitable explanation is that he's in a panic over polls that show Obama opening a lead. If this is not the case, then Romney's ignorance of foreign policy is more profound -- and potentially dangerous -- than anyone could have suspected.... You have to wonder whether he knows there are moments when the guiding principle has to be 'America first.' Not 'me first.'" ...

... Jonathan Alter in Bloomberg News: "It's hard to avoid the conclusion that [Romney] is trying to pander to the Republican base, almost one-third of which still believes -- against all evidence -- that Obama is a Muslim.... Americans recognize that judgment, prudence, instinct and a sense of what the moment demands are all job requirements for the presidency. Romney met none of them this week." ...

... Frank Rich talks with New York magazine's Eric Benson about the new soap "All My Cheap Shots," starring Mitt Romney (or something like that).

I think the challenge that I'll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it, to say things that aren't true. -- Mitt Romney, to George Stephanopoulos:

... CW: I've taken down the video of part of George Stepheanopoulos' interview of Mitt Romney because it may be the cause of some readers' computers freezing up. You can see video of the whole interview & read the transcript here.

Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "Speaking to a modest-sized crowd in Northern Virginia on Thursday, Mitt Romney sought to move beyond his criticism of President Obama's response to the turmoil in Libya and Egypt and instead broadly paint the president as weak on foreign policy.... At the mere mention of Libya, however, a man in the crowd began shouting: 'Why are you politicizing Libya?' As the crowd shouted down the protester, Mr. Romney tried to continue, before concluding, 'I would offer a moment of silence, but one gentleman doesn't want to be silent so we're going to keep on going..., strong military..., American leadership,' blah-blah.'" CW: So he's going to stand up to the world, but he caves to a lone protester? ...

Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "Advisers to Mitt Romney on Thursday defended his sharp criticism of President Obama and said that the deadly protests sweeping the Middle East would not have happened if the Republican nominee were president.... Mitchell Reiss, a top Romney policy adviser, said in an interview, 'There are things that we can do in terms of what we say, the constancy of what our vision is -- pluralism, respect for law, human dignity -- these are things that you don't hear from the administration, and the people in the region want to hear that.'" CW: I guess Mitt Romney was expressing his "vision" of "human dignity" when he said Israelis were more successful than Palestinians because of "cultural differences." And I suppose he was expressing respect for "pluralism" when he said Muslims should not be able to build a mosque within the vicinity of Ground Zero. Yessiree, those are great ways to win Muslim friends. ...

... Benjy Sarlin of TPM points out that Richard Williamson, the Romney advisor who claimed the attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East would never have happened if Romney were president, was an official in the George W. Bush administration, & "Numerous deadly attacks on diplomatic compounds in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Syria took place during the Bush administration."

If we [conservatives] want to win the battle of ideas in the long term, we should be willing to face the fact that Mitt Romney is likely to lose -- and should, given that he's neither a true conservative nor a courageous moderate. He's just an ambitious man. Nothing wrong with that, except when you want to be president. Great leaders combine ambition and ideas and conviction. -- Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" & a former Florida Republican Congressman who was one of the managers of the Clinton impeachment trial

Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon: where were Romney & RNC Chair Reince Priebus when President George W. Bush was actually apologizing for anti-Muslim actions & remarks by Americans?

A Diplomat Goes Rogue. Max Fisher of the Atlantic: "A senior public affairs officer at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, [Larry] Schwartz on Tuesday wrote a much-discussed memo stating that the embassy 'condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,' as well as several defensive tweets, some of which he later deleted.... State Department officials back in Washington, it turns out, had reviewed the memo and explicitly told Schwartz not to publish it, which he did anyway."

In yesterday's Ledes, there's a New York Times report on how President Obama told Israeli PM Netanyahu the U.S. would not accommodate his latest appeal. By contrast, Mitt Romney has said he would cede U.S. policy on Iran to Netanyahu. 

Dana Milbank: "Paul Ryan ... is scheduled to address the [Family Research] Council's 'Values Voter Summit' in Washington Friday morning.... He is making a mistake."

Daily Kos: "For the first time in 98 years, the 330,000-member Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) will not endorse a candidate for president this year. The FOP supported the Republican candidate for President in 2008, 2004, and 2000, and its non-endorsement is seen as a refutation of Mitt Romney. Why the change? One big reason was Mitt Romney's support of Senate Bill 5 in Ohio, which stripped collective bargaining rights from police officers."

AND Bruce Dickenson wants more cowbell:

     ... "Christopher Walken Endorses Obama." ...

     ... Thanks to contributor Lisa for her extensive research & virtual authorship of the "More Cowbell" feature.

FINALLY, Greg Sargent chooses this Fox Nation headline the Headline of the Day:

News Ledes

NBC News: "The bodies of four Americans killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, earlier in the week were returned to the United States and honored in a somber ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Friday." Secretary Clinton & President Obama speak:

... New York Times: "The violently anti-American rallies that have roiled the Islamic world over a video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad expanded on Friday to nearly 20 countries, with demonstrators storming the American Embassy in Tunisia in a deadly clash and protesters in Sudan's capital broadening the targets to include Germany and Britain." ...

... Washington Post: "The team of FBI agents assigned to investigate the deaths of four Americans in Libya has not been able to get into the country because of the volatile situation there, according to law enforcement officials." ...

... Al Jazeera: "Protesters in Egypt, angry at a video they say insults Prophet Mohammad, have hurled stones on a police force that prevented them from marching towards the US embassy in Cairo. On Friday, police in riot gear fired tear gas and threw stones back at the demonstrators. A burnt-out car was overturned in the middle of the street that leads to the fortified embassy from Tahrir Square." Al Jazeera has a liveblog of news about this & other protest incidents related to the anti-Islam film. ...

... AP: The "Egyptian ... president went on state TV and appealed to Muslims to protect embassies, trying to patch up strained relations with the United States.... Islamist President Mohammed Morsi spoke for more than seven minutes on state TV, his most direct public move to contain protests...."

... Washington Post: "As the anti-U.S. demonstrations spread, the [Obama] administration acted on a variety of fronts to convey two messages: that it had nothing to do with the offending video and that violence was not an acceptable response to the material." CW: a comprehensive story with info on a number of developments. ...

... ABC News: Glen Doherty, "one of the Americans killed alongside Ambassador Christopher Stevens in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya Tuesday, told ABC News before his death that he was working with the State Department on an intelligence mission to round up dangerous weapons in the war-torn nation."

... The Washington Post also reports on the "mystery" surrounding the video's producer(s).

Friday Afternoon News Dump. New York Times: The White House delivered a report to Congress Friday "detailing line by line what will happen next year if Washington fails to act to head off about $100 billion automatic defense and domestic spending cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 2. The Obama administration had been reluctant to show its hand on the true impact of so-called sequestration, but once forced to do so by Congress, the White House budget office did not scrimp on the details. 'As the administration has made clear, no amount of planning can mitigate the effect of these cuts. Sequestration is a blunt and indiscriminate instrument. It is not the responsible way for our nation to achieve deficit reduction,' the report concludes." You can read the report here.

Chicago Tribune: "Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract and classes could resume for 350,000 students on Monday, according to school and union officials."

Washington Post: "The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a six-month stopgap government funding bill on a 329 to 91 vote, putting aside the partisan warfare of the past 18 months in bipartisan resolve to avoid a budget showdown ahead of the November election. The Senate is expected to pass the same measure late next week, providing funding for agencies for the first six months of the fiscal year and avoiding any threat of a government shutdown when the year ends Sept. 30."

New York Times: "Two Republican state senators who provided pivotal votes to legalize same-sex marriage last year fought opponents to a standstill on Thursday in primary races so close that they will be decided only after absentee ballots are counted."

Wednesday
Sep122012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 13, 2012

Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian: "All the rage and denunciations of these murders in Benghazi are fully justified, but one wishes that even a fraction of that rage would be expressed when the US kills innocent men, women and children in the Muslim world, as it frequently does. Typically, though, those deaths are ignored, or at best justified with amoral bureaucratic phrases ('collateral damage') or self-justifying cliches ('war is hell'), which Americans have been trained to recite.... It's as though there are two types of crimes: killing, and then the killing of Americans."

Steve Benen: The Census Bureau annual report, published yesterday, shows that "for the first time in three years, the percentage of the public with [health insurance] coverage went up, not down, going from 83.7% to 84.3%.... The Affordable Care Act is making a positive difference, before it's even fully implemented.... 'Obamacare' is working."

Bill Maher on how Tom Brokaw & his band of "balanced, both-sides-do-it" newscasters contribute to birthism and racism. Thanks to Kate M. for pointing me to Maher's blogpost. CW: Brokaw is also a pompous know-nothing -- sort of the Rand Paul of broadcast journalism. I don't expect old farts like Brokaw to be policy wonks; he made a spectacular living reading the news, not analyzing it. But he should stay off the pundit circuit if he wants to pontificate about the deficit & hasn't read Krugman or about health insurance & hasn't read Ezra Klein. He's an embarrassing reminder of what happened to broadcast "journalism" in the U.S. when the first generation of actual journalists -- who came up from radio or print media -- died or retired.

Nicholas Kristof cites impressive statistics on how the quality of teachers affects students' futures. CW: I find the results surprising because I came up thru a school district (Dade County, Florida) where the vast majority of the teachers were pretty awful but many of the students -- who were almost all from lower middle-class families -- ended up being tremendously successful. Anyway, Kristof's piece is quite convincing. Maybe what it means is that if students don't get encouragement at home, then effective teachers make up the deficit.

Presidential Race

Michael Lewis has a well-writ feature in Vanity Fair on how President Obama made the decision to aid the Libyan rebels. Contributor Dave S., who recommended the piece wondered at its coincidental timing.

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "President Obama began what was supposed to be a boisterous campaign rally [in Las Vegas, Nevada] Wednesday before his most ardent group of supporters with a somber remembrance of the four Americans who were killed at the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday." ...

Peter Baker & Ashley Parker's New York Times article on L'Affaire Libya is an attempt at "fair-and-balanced" reporting that manages to make Romney look pretty bad. It will appear in today's print edition. However, the story mentions Romney's running fake complaint that "Obama goes around the world apologizing for the U.S." but omits the "fake" part, thus leaving the reader to guess if this is true or not. ...

... Philip Rucker's story in the Washington Post is much tougher on Romney, & so is the front-page headline: "Romney faces flak for assailing Obama on Libya." (The internal headline & URL are not so flashy.)

Brian Montopoli of CBS News: "In response to Mitt Romney's criticism of the Obama administration for its handling of recent violence in Egypt and Libya, President Obama ... told '60 Minutes' correspondent Steve Kroft at the White House. 'And I -- you know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. That, you know, it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts. And that you've thought through the ramifications before you make 'em.' Asked if Romney's attacks were irresponsible, the president replied, 'I'll let the American people judge that.'"

Matt Vasilogambros of the National Journal has a timeline of events leading up to & during the Libyan attacks. As Greg Sargent says, the timeline "demolishes Romney's version of events." ...

... Kasie Hunt of the AP: "The gunfire at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had barely ceased when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seriously mischaracterized what had happened in a statement accusing President Barack Obama of 'disgraceful' handling of violence there and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo." Headline: "Romney Misstates Facts on Attacks." ...

... Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's fact-checker: "We have looked in vain for an 'apology' in the Cairo [embassy] statement, as well as significant differences between that statement and earlier ones [going back to the Bush administration]. One could criticize the Cairo statement for lacking a meticulous defense of freedom of speech. But that is not the same thing as an apology -- especially since the embassy clearly issued the statement long before the protests began. This all started because some people got the timeline wrong. In the fog of war and protest, it often helps to get the facts straight before you act -- or speak."

"Romney Camp Tries to Manage Fallout from Libya Response." Peter Hamby of CNN: "Facing criticism for its aggressive and politically-charged response to Tuesday's violent attacks on the American embassies in Egypt and Libya, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is quietly advising Republicans how to respond to questions about the campaign's handling of the episode." Hamby publishes the list of talking points. ...

... Because even the neocons who constitute the Washington Post Editorial board have this to say: the "tragedy" in Libya "should prompt bipartisan support for renewed U.S. aid to Libyans who are struggling to stabilize the country. That it instead provoked a series of crude political attacks on President Obama by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is a discredit to his campaign.... Mr. Obama struck the right tone on Wednesday...." ...

... Paul Krugman thinks that the real damage Romney did to himself was to his relationship with the media: "Romney has really ensured that everyone in the news media, the GOP propaganda organs aside, is going to view him with distaste and alarm -- as well they should. Romney could still win, but he has just made it even harder for anyone to consider him suitable for the job."

Andrew Sprung of Xpostfactoid: "In response to everything Obama does or says -- or, for that matter, anything his primary opponents did or said -- Romney's reaction is so knee-jerk condemnatory, so extravagantly worded, so predictably self-serving that the instinctive response for most listeners or readers not themselves besotted with hatred for the target has got to be, 'this guy is faking it.' ... A majority even of Republicans think that Romney typically 'says what he thinks people want to hear' rather than that he 'says what he believes.'" Via Kevin Drum of Mother Jones.

... It Was a Set-Up! Noam Scheiber of The New Republic talked to a former Romney advisor who said "Romney may have been feeling defensive over the hazing he took in Charlotte last week -- 'my opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy,' the president tweaked him -- and was primed to hit back. 'They set him up Thursday night at the convention with the smack down on foreign policy,' says the former adviser. 'They called him naïve, Palin-esque. Then he got his back up about it and was waiting for opportunity to show, "I'm strong, too." CW: nothing more reassuring than having a president who can be easily punked. ...

... Gail Collins: "Two months to go and we're rethinking our presumption that the Republican primary voters picked the most stable option." ...

... Michael Cohen of the New York Daily News: Romney's "reaction to the violence in Egypt and Libya over a film mocking the religious beliefs of Muslims is truly one of the most brain-dead political acts that I've ever witnessed -- and it speaks volumes about his personal character and fitness for the nation's highest office.... "Put [it] all together and you have a political assault that is craven, dishonest and shameless all at once."

... Jon Chait of New York: "Romney had grown accustomed to spinning fantasies cobbled together from months-old Obama speeches and nurtured into legend by extensive repetition and exaggeration in the conservative subculture. What he failed to realize from the outset was that the embassy attack was an immediate, high-profile event that he could not hope to rewrite so brazenly. Forced to confront the yawning chasm between reality and the fantasy he had wallowed in so long, Romney was exposed and, justifiably, discredited." CW: this may be the price a person pays when he feels he is "entitled" to lie. Romney has been lying for years & no one but a few lonely voices on the left called him out. Since substantively there's no difference between lying about something that supposedly happened years ago & lying about something that happened yesterday, Romney couldn't see the difference. The difference, as Chait writes, was that everybody but the Tom Brokaw contingent can remember way back to yesterday. ...

... BUT the REAL leader of the Republican party -- that would be Rush Limbaugh -- said that "Romney is the only guy that looked presidential in all of this." CW: evidently Rushbo was aware that while Willard was looking presidential, he was also moving his lips, which made him sound like a lying lunatic.

Greg Sargent rounds up for recent polls that show Obama tied or slightly ahead of Romney on who would do a better job on managing the economy &/or creating jobs: "For much of the presidential race, polls have shown that Mitt Romney has led Barack Obama on the question of who would do a better job handling the economy.... Well, we now have four national polls that show Obama and Romney tied on the question -- perhaps suggesting a potentially significant shift in the race's dynamics." Sargent also notes that the Fox "News" poll finds that Obama is favored 51-40 on "who is more trusted to protect Medicare and ensure that it's there for future generations." ...

... Nate Cohn of The New Republic looks at the Fox "News" poll: "Collectively, these figures are terrible news for the Romney campaign. They have always claimed that their path to victory depended on voters resolving to dismiss the president on the grounds that his economic performance is a resounding failure, but voters appear to be drawing a different conclusion." Via Greg Sargent. ...

... CW: these poll results are not news to the Romney campaign. They do their own polling. These post-conventions results explain why Romney is attacking Obama on every front, even when the attacks make no sense and are counterfactual. The Romney camp's central belief -- that they could win on "Me-Businessman/He-Socialist" and nothing else -- has been eroding for a couple of months. Those Bain Capital attack ads -- that so annoyed Cory Booker -- worked.

Two theories of presidential election dynamics, which are not mutually exclusive: David Atkins of Hullabaloo: the electorate's relationship with President Obama is "complicated" & personal; Paul Krugman: Americans know the economy is still bad, especially for middle-class job-seekers, but they perceive it as moving in the right direction. ...

... CW theory: the Republican base prefers crazy candidates, & the GOP honchos think their candidates should be the ones who have "paid their dues"; i.e., run for POTUS previously -- Saint Ronnie, Pappy Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Rmoney; Dubya was a legacy pick. "Normal" voters are turned off by the flame-throwers (as Rmoney has become) & don't give a rat's ass (including Willard's) if a president is a former also-ran. ("I used to be a loser," is not that great a campaign pitch; "I used to be a loser, & now I'm crazy" is worse.) Notice that the successful Democratic candidates have been relative unknowns who never previously ran for president -- Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton & Barack Obama.

Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: the Obama "campaign's big-dollar fund-raising has become more dependent than it was four years ago on a smaller number of large-dollar donors and fund-raisers. All told, Mr. Obama's top 'bundlers' -- people who gather checks from friends and business associates -- raised or gave at least $200 million for Mr. Obama's re-election bid and the Democratic National Committee through the end of May...."

Congressional Races

Frank Phillips of the Boston Globe: "Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren -- amid growing unrest from party activists and leaders -- is facing pressure to make a major shift in her television advertising with a new series of commercials that seek to soften her image, while focusing more directly on her GOP rival, Senator Scott Brown."

Edith Zimmerman profiles Joseph Kennedy III for the New York Times Magazine. Kennedy is running as a Democrat for U.S. Congress in the redrawn district of Barney Frank (D), who is retiring.

News Ledes

New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to spell out a specific 'red line' that Iran could not cross in its nuclear program, a senior administration official said, deepening the divide between the allies.... In an hourlong telephone conversation..., Mr. Obama deflected Mr. Netanyahu's proposal to make the size of Iran's stockpile of close-to-bomb-grade uranium the threshold for a military strike by the United States against its nuclear facilities."

Reuters: "The United States on Thursday identified two additional victims of this week's deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as former Navy SEALS who died trying to protect their colleagues. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died in Tuesday's assault on the Benghazi consulate, which also killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, a State Department information management officer."

New York Times: "Following a blunt phone call from President Obama, Egyptian leaders scrambled Thursday to try to repair the country's alliance with Washington, tacitly acknowledging that they erred in their response to the attack on the United States Embassy by seeking to first appease anti-American domestic opinion without offering a robust condemnation of the violence."

New York Times: "The Federal Reserve opened a new chapter on Thursday in its efforts to stimulate the economy, announcing simply that it plans to buy mortgage bonds, and potentially other assets, until unemployment declines substantially."

AP: "Chanting 'death to America,' hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital and burned the American flag on Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks on American diplomatic missions in the Middle East. The protesters breached the usually tight security around the embassy and reached the compound grounds but did not enter the main building housing the offices." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "Deadly outrage in the Arab world over an American-made video insulting Islam's founder spread to at least half a dozen places across the Middle East on Thursday and threatened to draw in Afghanistan, two days after assailants in Libya killed four American diplomatic personnel, including the ambassador, and caused a foreign policy political clash in the United States. The worst of the violence was in Yemen, where at least five Yemenis were killed as hundreds of protesters stormed the American Embassy and were repulsed by Yemeni security forces."

... Al Jazeera: "Protesters angered by an anti-Islam film have stormed the US embassy compound in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, as similar demonstrations have spread to several countries across the Middle East." ...

... New York Times: "Hours before the attacks in Benghazi on Tuesday, the American Embassy in Cairo came under siege from protesters. While the violence there did not result in any American deaths, the tepid response from the Egyptian government to the assault gave officials in Washington -- already troubled by the direction of President Mohamed Morsi's new Islamist government -- further cause for concern." ...

... Al Jazeera: "US officials confirmed to Al Jazeera that a special unit of roughly 50 members of the Marine Corps had been dispatched to Libya to reinforce the troops guarding diplomats there, as two warships headed to the Libyan coast." ...

... Reuters: "Security forces fired teargas to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators near the U.S. embassy in Cairo late on Wednesday, some 24 hours after protesters scaled the walls and tore down the flag over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad." ...

... AP: "The anti-Muslim film implicated in mob protests against U.S. diplomatic missions in the Mideast received logistical help from a man once convicted of financial crimes and featured actors who complained that their inflammatory dialogue was dubbed in after filming. The self-proclaimed director of 'Innocence of Muslims' initially claimed a Jewish and Israeli background. But others involved in the film said his statements were contrived as evidence mounted that the film's key player was a southern Californian Coptic Christian with a checkered past."

ABC News: "Al Qaeda has released a new video of American hostage Warren Weinstein delivering a personal message to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. In the video, Weinstein, 71, believed to be held in the tribal regions along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, appears healthy and calm, speaking in a soft, controlled manner."

Reuters: "The union for Chicago teachers and the third largest U.S. school district said they will try on Thursday to make a final push to settle a strike that has drawn national attention to the sweeping education reforms sought by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. As the strike of 29,000 public school teachers and support staff prepared to enter a fourth day, negotiators for the first time expressed optimism that the nasty fight could end soon." Chicago Tribune item here.

AP: "One of New York City's most ambitious efforts to prod residents to live healthier appears poised to pass as a health panel takes up a plan to cut down sales of big sodas and other sugary soft drinks. The Board of Health was set to vote Thursday on the proposal, which would bar sales of sugar-heavy drinks in more than 16-ounce cups or bottles in restaurants, movie theaters and some other settings." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "... The New York City Board of Health approved on Thursday a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, street carts and movie theaters, enacting the first restriction of its kind in the country."

Tuesday
Sep112012

Lady Romney at the School of Hard Knocks

They were not easy years. You have to understand, I was raised in a lovely neighborhood, as was Mitt, and at BYU, we moved into a $62-a-month basement apartment with a cement floor and lived there two years as students with no income. It was tiny. And I didn’t have money to carpet the floor. But you can get remnants, samples, so I glued them together, all different colors. It looked awful, but it was carpeting. We were happy, studying hard. Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time. -- Lady Romney, 1994

We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days. -- Lady Romney, GOP convention, August 2012

Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives. -- Lady Romney, "Meet the Press," September 10, 2012

Oops. Guess that phony poor-mouthing wasn't polling too well. Nonetheless, I think maybe we should let Lady Romney know that she & Little Lord Willard weren't the only students who struggled to make ends meet on a paltry inheritance. Here's my contribution. Please feel free to add your own. It can be real or more like this:

It Was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times. I'll just skip right over my undergraduate days, where I worked my way through school on summer jobs, research assistantships & tuition scholarships. Let's get on to the days when my first husband was finishing his last years of grad school. Although Lord & Lady Romney didn't have to work, we did because neither of us had a family inheritance. My husband had teaching jobs -- where he was paid by the course; he didn't have a full-time salary or standing -- & I worked at one of the universities where he taught. After a while I got pregnant -- to keep my husband out of Viet Nam -- & had to quit work. But I still worked researching my husband's dissertation, & after my son was born, I went back to school, too. We first lived in a third-floor walk-up on the Near North side of Chicago, then we moved to -- a basement apartment in Rogers Park -- just south of Evanston. It had linoleum floors -- no fancy mismatched carpet. To keep to our schedule of classes, my husband & I used to meet on the El platform & trade off our infant son. Our desk was a door propped up on oak filing cabinets I found in the alley. We didn't have a bed! (My husband & I slept on an avocado-green sofabed in the living/dining room.) We didn't have a car. The summer after my son was born, to save the cost of a round trip on the El, I used to ride my bike 18 miles through Lincoln Park on Saturdays to the Chicago Historical Society to read microfilm for my husband while he stayed home with our son & worked on compiling the research I'd done.

Not counting baby food, I never spent more than $20/week on groceries; it was usually closer to $10. We had a black-&-white TV. During the 1968 Chicago convention, burglars stole it & our typewriter.

When my husband finished his dissertation, which I edited & typed (on a new electric portable), he got a full-time job teaching at the University of Southern California. After we moved to SoCal, I got a job as a claims adjuster for an insurance company so we could save for a down payment on a house. Shortly after we bought the house, I got pregnant again -- my husband's bright idea -- and he promptly left me for one of his beautiful USC students. While I was packing up to go live with my parents (my mother was less than thrilled) for my "confinement," my husband's sheepskin came in the mail. When he came around to collect his mail, I gave him his half of the diploma.

"Very special days"? You bet. I learned a lot. Like -- diplomas are made of high-quality rag bond. If you tear them carefully, you get a beautiful deckled edge.

Tuesday
Sep112012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 12, 2012

John Cook of Gawker: "Kurt Eichenwald, the disgraced former New York Times reporter whose career went up in flames after he got caught secretly paying thousands of dollars to a child pornographer he wrote about, is on the comeback trail. Today he published an op-ed in the New York Times claiming to have evidence that the Bush Administration is guilty of 'significantly more negligence' in ignoring 9/11 warning signs 'than has been disclosed.' That may be true, but save for a few interesting details, the evidence he presents has been in the public record for nearly a decade." CW: I linked Eichenwald's op-ed the other day, & it got lotsa positive press attention. Cook provides the antidote.

Mike Konczal of Business Insider presents "The Complete Guide To America's Jobs Crisis And The Failure Of Monetary Policy Using Animated Gifs." Fun AND informative; e.g., Ben Bernanke's policy:

Matthew Cunningham-Cook, writing in The Nation, has a very good pro-union piece on the Chicago teachers' strike. ...

... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Chicago teachers are taking on the education agenda of the one percent, and that means they're taking a beating in the media. But a new poll shows that ... 47 percent [of Chicago voters] support the strike, with 39 percent opposed."

Presidential Race

** Lydia Saad of Gallup: "The U.S. Gallup Economic Confidence Index surged to -18 for the week ending Sept. 9, up 11 points from -29 the prior week.... It appears that the spark for the dramatic rise in Americans' economic confidence last week was the Democratic National Convention. A review of Gallup's nightly tracking results shows that the index was consistently near or below -25 each night in late August and early September, but then sharply improved on Sept. 4, the first night of the convention, to -18. Confidence then held at or near -18 through Sunday, despite the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' mixed August unemployment report Friday.... More specifically, the convention appears to have given Democrats and, to a lesser degree, independents, fresh optimism about the economy."

James Downie of the Washington Post ties President Obama's convention speech about citizenship to the nation's reaction to 9/11, when -- for however brief a moment -- we all became citizens.

AP: "Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration in the wake of attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya on Tuesday, [September 11]. The assaults were linked to a video being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christi, an in the U.S." Romney said, "'It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.' Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a statement released about the same time as Romney's, condemned the attack in Libya 'in the strongest terms.'" CW: I would favor fitting Romney for a muzzle in the interest of national security. I hope when the President makes or issues a statement about the consulate killings (which surely he will), he'll tactfully tell Romney to STFU (which he probably won't). Suggesting that the President would favor violence (and ultimately murder) against U.S. consulate personnel is what is "disgraceful." But anything to suggest Obama is a secret Muslim fundamentalist is evidently A-Okay. See Michael Tomasky column linked below. It took less than 24 hours for Tomasky's prediction to come true. ...

     ... Byron Tau of Politico: "The Obama administration is disavowing a statement from its own Cairo embassy that seemed to apologize for anti-Muslim activity in the United States. 'The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,' an administration official told Politico. The U.S. embassy in Cairo put out a statement early Tuesday that apologized for an anti-Muslim film being circulated by an Israeli-American real estate developer." CW: the embassy statement may somewhat mitigates Mitt's remarks. But not much.

     ... Update. Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt pushes back with this statement of his own: 'We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.' Romney's remarks, initially embargoed until the 9/11 anniversary was officially over but then made public before that, also came as the situation was still unfolding -- there are now four reported deaths, including U.S. Ambassador John Christopher Stevens...." ...

     ... Update. Peter Baker & Sarah Wheaton of the New York Times have Romney's full statement: "'I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,' Mr. Romney said in a statement. 'It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.'" Mr. Romney was making an apparent reference to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo condemning a Web film that denounces Islam made my an Israel-American. The statement, which rejects 'efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,' was released before the protests started in an effort to cool tensions." CW: So, in my book, Romney himself is still "disgraceful" -- AND an "outrage." ...

     ... Update. Tampa Bay Times: "The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three American members of his staff were reportedly killed Tuesday in riots sparked by outrage over a film backed by Terry Jones, the Gainesville pastor whose burning of Korans last year led to days of rioting in Afghanistan." CW: so basically, Mitt Romney is on that whacked-out guy's side.

     ... Update: Steve Kornacki of Salon: "The foolishness of Romney's reaction is glaring. Pretending that the statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo was anything other than a completely understandable and reasonable attempt by its occupants to save their own lives borders on disgraceful. Romney's implication that the statement was issued at the height of the attacks is also false; it was actually released earlier in the day, a preventive measure aimed at keeping the protests from turning violent." ...

     ... Update. Greg Sargent: "Mitt Romney just held a press availability about the attacks in Libya and Egypt and the death of the U.S. ambassador John Christopher Stevens. Remarkably, Romney doubled down on his claim that the Obama administration 'sympathized' with the attackers.... This press conference looks to me like a serious mistake on Romney's part. The whole thing reeked of political opportunism and didn't convey any sense of leadership or reassurance amid a crisis. It was also somewhat incoherent." ...

     ... Ben Smith of BuzzFeed: "Mitt Romney's sharply-worded attack on President Obama over a pair of deadly riots in Muslim countries last night has backfired badly among foreign policy hands of both parties, who cast it as hasty and off-key, released before the facts were clear at what has become a moment of tragedy." ...

     ... Update. Scott Wong of Politico: "Republicans on Capitol Hill strongly condemned the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya and Egypt that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. But they're leaving ... Mitt Romney out on a limb after he criticized President Barack Obama's 'disgraceful' handling of the assault...." ...

... Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: "... it's perfectly reasonable that embassy staff tried to pacify the rioters by condemning 'efforts to offend believers of all religions.' During the Danish cartoons flap, the Bush administration said 'we certainly understand why Muslims would find these images offensive.' ... It would be one thing if Mr. Romney had his big ideas about foreign policy and legitimate disagreements with Mr. Obama. All he offers is blind partisan attack and fortune-cookie pronouncements." ...

... David Sessions of Newsweek: "In the wake of an attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, Tuesday that left an American envoy dead, conservatives are bringing back one of the most deeply dishonest narratives of the Obama administration: that the president apologizes for the United States."

... Mark Thompson of Time: "The news of the killing of Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, in an attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi is bitter. It was Benghazi, after all, that was the heart of the Libyan revolution last year. Libyan leader Muammar Ghadafi vowed to exterminate the rebels there like 'rats.' It was to protect the civilians of Benghazi that the U.S. went to war over Libya in 2011, along with its NATO, and some Arab, allies. Ghadafi was killed last October and now Stevens -- who championed the rebels' cause from his post in Benghazi -- has sadly met the same fate.... The immediate political statements by both sides in the presidential race cheapens Stevens' sacrifice.... A White House spokesman denounced Romney's comment as a 'political attack.'" ...

... AND this tweet from RNC Chair Reince Priebus: "Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic."

Mitt Who? Dana Milbank: "House Republican leaders ... uttered 1,350 words in their opening remarks at the news conference but made no reference to" Mitt Romney. "That Romney would go on 'Meet the Press' and say that last year's bipartisan spending deal was a 'mistake' -- never mind that Romney had applauded Boehner for negotiating the deal at the time -- made clear that the GOP nominee does not wish to run on the record of congressional Republicans. That House Republicans would not so much as breathe Romney's name makes clear the sentiment is mutual.... The estrangement seen in the past few days is part of a broader dynamic in which the Republican Party seems to be readying itself to cut and run from its nominee."

A new Obama ad going up in swing state:

No Rest for the Warmongers. Matt Vasilogambros of the National Journal: "On the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Republicans aligned with Mitt Romney attacked President Obama over his foreign policy actions, from the decision to withdraw troops from Iraq to the conflict that still plagues Syria. 'As far as the Middle East is concerned, this president's national security policy has been an abysmal failure,' said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Fox & Friends. Taking a similar tone, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani criticized Obama's handling of the Iran's nuclear program."

Sahil Kapur of Think Progress: "Conservatives are increasingly worried that Mitt Romney's vagueness about tax reform and other policy issues will be his downfall on Election Day. Romney's sympathizers are raising red flags, after he and his running mate repeatedly declined to provide details during a round of Sunday interviews about the loopholes he'd close to pay for large tax rate cuts." ...

... Paul Waldman of American Prospect has a very good post on Mitt Romney's vagueness: "It's one thing to be vague because you think getting bogged down in a discussion of details will distract from your broader message, but it's another thing to be vague because a discussion of details will reveal that you're promising things you can't possibly deliver." ...

... Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic: "The more Romney talks about his plans, the more he'll have to acknowledge the unpopular trade-offs -- and not just on health care. If Romney provides details on his tax plan, he'll have to tell non-wealthy voters he's raising their taxes or admit that his plan will, on its own, increase the deficit. If he provides more details on his spending plan, he'll have to tell the voters about massive cuts to federal programs they cherish. If he goes into detail about his economic agenda, he'll have to admit that serious economists doubt that agenda will do much to create jobs in the short run." ...

... Jamelle Bouie in the Washington Post: "Between his promise to restore Obama's Medicare cuts, his promise to fight defense cuts, and his promise to cut taxes without saying how they'd be paid for, Romney has offered nothing that would reduce the deficit.... Conservatives have urged Romney to provide more detail the public, but given the degree to which his policy proposals do not meet their stated goals, that's probably not a good idea. Second, the move to hit Obama on defense cuts is another sign that Team Romney is moving away from its "Obama failed on the economy" message, and toward a broader set of right wing attacks on a variety of issues. The problem is that it's hard to capitalize on issues like this when you're running mate is on the other side. This was the case with Medicare cuts, it is the case with the sequester...."

... CW: what I see happening is that perhaps the public has taken a glance at the most untrustworthy presidential nominee in recent history & is seeing -- an untrustworthy candidate: he won't release his taxes, he won't say anything more about his jobs agenda than that he'll create the same number of jobs that would be created anyway, he claims his Bain experience makes him qualified to handle the economy but he won't say how, he wants to cut taxes on the rich, he wants to voucherize everything but his family's horse (which he's incorporated), he's been caught in well-publicized (at long last) lies, he criticizes President Obama on foreign policy but he has no foreign policy of his own other than Russia-Bad/USA-good, China-Bad/USA-good, Israel-good/Obama-bad. And his vapid wife Lady Romney thinks living for a couple of years the way most students live for several years is a heart-rending hardship.

CW: Jeb Bush got up at the GOP convention & chastised President Obama for "blaming my brother" for everything. Ross Douthat must have been playing with his blow-up Lady Romney doll during that speech because the point of his post today is that Romney's bad standing is totally Bush's fault.

What [Romney] did was to say it worked in Massachusetts, but it can't work nationally. The problem he has is that's a totally illogical position, and he looks like an idiot.... They're the same fucking bill. -- Jonathan Gruber, who worked on developing both RomneyCare & ObamaCare ...

... Charles Pierce, in a full-length Esquire piece, writes that he is thankful for RomneyCare, even if Willard Romney isn't. (Click on the printer icon [just above the portrait of Gov. Willard] to read the story on one page.)

Not that it matters, BUT. Katie Glueck of Politico: "A survey by the German Marshall Fund of the United States ... [found that] 38 percent of respondents in the European Union said they did not know whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of Romney, or refused to respond.... Of the European respondents who were familiar with Romney, 39 percent viewed him unfavorably, while just 23 percent had a positive take on the candidate, according to the survey." CW: Yeah, well, whaddaya expect from socialists?

Lies, Damned Lies & Fox "News" "Statistics." Steve Benen: Fox "News" put up a graphic comparing the standard unemployment rate in 2009 to the current rate that "includes part-time workers who want to work full-time and those who've given up." In other words, comparing apples & cantaloupes. Based on these totally cooked figured, Fox then claimed that unemployment has doubled under president Obama. They added a phony figure to show that "government workers" had a low unemployment rate, when the opposite is true. As Benen writes, "The public sector hasn't had it better than everyone else; the public sector has had it worse than everyone else. After the graphic aired, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham asked, 'Other than Fox News, where are you really seeing those statistics?' What a good question."

Michael Tomasky of Newsweek predicts that Candidate Do-Anything-Say-Anything will amp up the race-baiting if it becomes clear he can't win on the economy & other culture-war issues. Let's remember this & see if Tomasky is right. ...

... Here's a good example of what Tomasky is writing about:

Brian Bakst of the AP: "Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan plans to begin airing ads in Wisconsin as he asks voters to elect him to an eighth House term...."

News Ledes

President Obama remarks on the attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya:

Secretary of State Clinton on the killing of Ambassador Stevens & others in the U.S. diplomat corps:

Washington Post: "News agencies reported Wednesday that the U.S. ambassador to Libya, John Christopher Stevens, was killed in an assault outside the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, after protestors stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest a U.S.-released film that protesters said insulted the prophet Muhammad. Stevens and three other embassy employees were fatally wounded by rocket fire outside the consulate on Tuesday, news agencies said. Neither the White House nor the State Department had confirmed Stevens' death as of Wednesday morning." Story has been updated. The White House has confirmed the killings. "Wire services and reporters on the ground said that Stevens and the others were fleeing the consulate when a rocket-propelled grenade struck their vehicle. Al-Jazeera's correspondent in Benghazi said the bodies of the dead had been taken to the Benghazi airport." ...

     ... Al Jazeera story here....

     ... New York Times story here. The Times story had been updated to include this new information: "Initial accounts of the assault in Benghazi were attributed to popular anger over what was described as an American-made video.... But administration officials in Washington said the attack in Libya may have been plotted in advance." ...

     ... Politico Update: "The consulate where the American ambassador to Libya was killed on Tuesday is an 'interim facility' not protected by the contingent of Marines that safeguards embassies." ...

     ... AP: "An Israeli filmmaker based in California went into hiding Tuesday after his movie attacking Islam's prophet Muhammad sparked angry assaults by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya, where one American was killed. Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "The film that set off violence across North Africa was made in obscurity somewhere in the sprawl of Southern California, and promoted by a network of right-wing Christians with a history of animosity directed toward Muslims. When a 14-minute trailer of it -- all that may actually exist -- was posted on YouTube in June, it was barely noticed."

Washington Post: "The deepening dispute between the United States and Israel over how to stop Iran's nuclear program broke into public view Tuesday, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggesting that the Obama administration did not have the 'moral right' to forestall military action. Netanyahu's remarks -- and a White House decision that President Obama will not meet with the Israeli leader later this month -- threatened to further exacerbate tensions between the two allies and possibly push the disagreement over Iran into the U.S. presidential campaign."

AP: "Germany's highest court paved the way for the creation of Europe's €500 billion rescue fund after it rejected Wednesday calls to block it."